Nikkor 70-300mm - f/4.5-5.6 G AF-S
Christmas wasn't an official holiday in America until 1870. The holiday might seem like an ancient tradition steeped in history, but it's much younger than you might think. Christmas didn't became an official federal holiday until June 26, 1870. The holiday mostly got its start in Pagan roots as an excuse for drunken revelry, which wasn't appealing to the strict Christian Puritans. Early in America's birth, some states started recognizing Christmas and a lobby started for a national holiday for Thanksgiving and Christmas to strengthen the nation's unity.
Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836. Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.
Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City. Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as stern, commanding, and holding a birch rod. He was more a symbol of discipline and punishment than the jolly, overweight elf children know today.
The Viking god Odin is one precursor to the modern Santa Claus. According to myth, Odin rode his flying horse, Sleipnir (a precursor to Santa’s reindeer), who had eight legs. In the winter, Odin gave out both gifts and punishments, and children would fill their boots or stockings with treats for Sleipnir.
'Jingle Bells' was written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. It's hard to go more than five minutes without hearing the familiar tune of 'Jingle Bells' running through your head during the month of December. The truth is that you should have been hearing it in November. According to Mental_Floss Magazine, composer James Lord Pierpont wrote the song in the 1850s to play for his Boston Sunday school class during Thanksgiving as a way to commemorate the famed Medford sleigh races. Kids and adults loved the song and eventually changed the lyrics to fit Christmas. No word on whether the original lyrics contained the line, "Dashing through the snow, in a one-turkey open sleigh."
Bonus "Bells" track ;)
The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples. At Christmastime, medieval actors would use apples to decorate paradise trees (usually fir trees) during “Paradise Plays,” which were plays depicting Adam and Eve’s creation and fall.
The first person to decorate a Christmas tree with lights was reportedly the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). According to legend, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree, he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.
After all, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It's the season of giving! Holiday of being with family and promoting peace. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.